CES Gathering Provides Educational Participants with the Essentials

Earlier this month, the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) – a national organization that works to create and sustain equitable, intellectually vibrant, personalized schools and to make such schools the norm of American public education — held an extraordinary national gathering in Providence, R.I., where its work first began back in 1984.

Called Fall Forum 2016, this most recent event featured a gathering of educators and progressive education advocates skilled at — and committed to — student-focused, teacher-led, equitable, and challenging learning.

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During the Dec. 1-3 event, participants reflected on the work of the Coalition of Essential Schools, the contributions of CES Founder Ted Sizer and generations of CES educators, the inheritors and sustainers of CES’s work, and the future of schools led by the passions of students and teachers.

Eagle Rockers in attendance included Jeff Liddle, Head of School; Dan Condon, Associate Director of Professional Development; Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate; and Eagle Rock students Nigel Taylor and Soren Arvidson.

On Thursday evening of the event, Dan and the students attended a viewing of the film Most Likely to Succeed, followed by discussion with local and national education change leaders. (As an aside, if you haven’t watched Most Likely to Succeed, add it to your list. Many people are saying it’s the best film ever made on the topic of Continue reading…

Winooski School Tackles Equity in Personalization

Editor’s Note: Inspired by Sarah Bertucci, our professional development associate, Eagle Rock is leading five schools through a yearlong project with the objective of improving equity at those schools by means of independent projects. Last summer, Growing Equity Together was launched with representatives from all five schools gathering on at our campus in Estes Park, Colo., to make plans. Today’s post is an update from Winooski Middle/High School — one of the five schools involved in this innovative program.

From Lindsey Cox, iLab Humanities Teacher — Winooski Middle/High School

As one of the schools participating in The Growing Equity Together Project, Winooski Middle/High School is nearing the end of its first continuous improvement cycle aimed at supporting students in Grades 6 through 9.

ilab-winooski-logoThe objective is to develop the confidence these youngsters need to be successful when working on personalized learning projects.

Winooski is a small town in northwest Vermont that also serves as one of our nation’s refugee resettlement locations. Our middle/high school has about 380 students in grades 6-12 with about 30 percent being English Language Learning (ELL) students and 70 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch status.

Over the past four years, Winooski has benefited from being part of a student-centered learning grant in collaboration with Burlington High School in Burlington, Vt., with funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

The grant effort, known as the Partnership for Change, has supported educators in shifting their teaching and learning systems to be more student-centered by being more personalized and proficiency-based. Simultaneously, legislation passed in 2013 known as (PDF) Act 77: The Flexible Pathways Bill (PDF), mandates a progressive educational agenda for the entire state because it requires all students — beginning with the class of 2020 — to graduate based on proficiencies instead of Carnegie units.

Act 77 also requires students in grades 7 through 12 to Continue reading…

Strategic Plan Update: Diversity and Inclusion

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the sixth in our series about the Eagle Rock strategic plan — Vision 2020. Below, Jeff Liddle, head of school, shares his insights and updates on our commitment to improving diversity and inclusion at Eagle Rock. If you’re interested in learning about the overall aim of the plan, please read Jeff’s first post in this series: News From The Rock: Vision 2020.

It’s no secret that inequity is a major issue in the United States. Clearly schools must think differently about how they recruit, select, develop and support staff and how they create inclusive environments that serve all young people. We count ourselves among those schools and are therefore also deepening our journey to become a more inclusive and equitable community. While cross-cultural understanding and living in respectful harmony with others have always been Eagle Rock values, our community has recognized that we have room to grow here.

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In our Strategic Plan, Vision 2020, we committed to building a more inclusive culture and increasing the diversity of our staff. It is our intention to be a model organization in this regard, through long term, focused, intentional planning.

Recognizing the benefits of diversity and inclusion

Eagle Rock, which strives to be a model inclusive organization, serves a diverse student body with a diverse staff. It is our intention that staff and students, policies, practices, and programs all align toward the objective of contributing to a more just and equitable society. We are committed to diversity and inclusion for many reasons, including: Continue reading…

Summer Institute Helps Educators and Students Grow Equity Together

Editor’s Note: Courtney Coleman of Harlem, N.Y., arrived at Eagle Rock in May of 2015 as a member of ER66 (the 66th trimester since our founding in the early-1990s). This blog post describes Courtney’s exposure to, and experience with, Eagle Rock’s Growing Equity Together Project, where our young author discovered the difference between Equity and Equality and helped to coordinate and facilitate Eagle Rock’s Summer Institute for educators seeking to improve equity at their schools.

By Courtney Coleman

The first seeds of the Growing Equity Together Project were planted in 1994, when Sarah Bertucci, Eagle Rock’s professional development associate, was an intern during Eagle Rock’s first summer in existence.

Eagle Rock is known for its positive influence on people. Sarah was one of the early staff members who were changed forever by getting to know Eagle Rock students and seeing them thrive in our innovative learning environment.

Her summer internship was Sarah’s first experience working in a non-traditional high school. As she adjusted her lessons and provided individualized support to meet students’ needs, she experienced what equity entailed, even though she didn’t yet call it by that name. This was also her first exposure to deeper learning — an approach to learning that focuses on knowing a smaller set of topics in depth while developing lifelong learning skills, rather than covering vast amounts of information at a surface level. Sarah says Eagle Rock internship is what inspired her to become a teacher.

Educator and student participants — Eagle Rock's 2016 Summer Institute.

Educator and student participants — Eagle Rock’s 2016 Summer Institute.

The Growing Equity Together Project was inspired by Sarah’s Deeper Learning and Equity fellowship. Part of the fellowship included a capstone project, so Sarah designed a project with three parts: Continue reading…